Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Exhale.

So today, Rex and I exhaled. We are breathing again. In and out, for the first time in months. (No, not literally or we would be dead, but often lately we felt sure that we couldn’t catch our breath.)

While I have been writing all throughout this day because it is one of those, lay down a stone to remember days, this post from five years ago came up in my facebook memories.

Much of what I was praying for then has been faithfully answered. My oldest is loving God and guiding his sweet family. My boys are pooping regularly.

But honestly, much of what I was praying five years ago as it related to youngest two sons, is still what I pray today, yet unanswered.


Many of my prayers recently have been simple, Dear God, Jesus help or, simply JESUS!

I am so thankful for our friends and family and church body who are lifting more specific prayers on our behalf.  We are commanded to pray without ceasing, yes. 

Sometimes, Jesus help is the most powerful of all prayers.

So, I share this repeat post because if no one else does,  Rex and I need it today - to look back and see God’s faithfulness on this journey and as a reminder to keep praying for the answers we still seek.

Happy Tuesday y’all!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

When a Trauma Momma Craves What She Cannot Find.

Peace.

I crave it.  I dream about it.  I envy it when I see it.  I will go to most any measure to find it, including taking my boys on vacation, alone.  My husband joked that they would eat me alive.  My friends have checked on me this week.  Our people know this is kind of extreme.

But, this.




Oh, this gives me comfort.  God showing off, and I so need Him to do that in my family.

The sunsets are breathtaking.  I haven't seen a sunrise.  Seriously, this past-exhausted momma just can't.  But sitting here, on this deck has been my sanity for this week.




In the midst of his meltdowns, rants and spewing venom...finding a few minutes here listening to the breeze flow through the tall grass has allowed me to catch my breath.  

I'm not over dramatizing, he sucks the breath out of me.  

And the amazing sunsets, the rolling waves and sea breeze that I have been drawn to since childhood, can't stop the trauma being lived out mere feet away.  The rant that has gone on for hours- that started over I can't even tell you.  And really, it doesn't matter what starts it.  I said we would go to the beach early, and it's nine instead of seven so I'm a liar.  

I don't think y'all even know my powers.  Did you know, that I can control the ocean?  Seriously, if you ask my son, he will tell you (okay, probably only he tells me) that I caused the riptides in the ocean this week, ruining two days of boogie boarding.  

I am embarrassed to admit that I understand now, how parents hit their breaking point and snap.  I DO NOT agree with it, and it is not right.  But I understand that hour after hour, day after day of verbal assault and insult weighs on a person and there is only so much one can take.  

Last night was a first, he actually woke me up after being asleep for more than an hour, to restart the rant that I walked away from.  Two hours he spewed venom- I couldn't calm him because I couldn't get a word in.  He was aggressive and destructive and if asked in those moments if I felt safe, the true answer would be no.  But I didn't feel he was safe from himself, either.  And that, is heart-breaking for me.  

I do not know how people parent Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) children without Jesus.  I cling to Him for my survival, and still I feel like I'm drowning.  Who do people without Jesus, cling to and find strength from? 

We are trying to take control back of our home.  We are trying to help our son heal but the chaos that comes from parenting a child with trauma keeps us guessing if we are even sane.  And, the parent guilt is relentless.   

Should we have taken him to the hospital?  Was residential helpful at all?  Is he capable of change? Are we expecting to much?  Is this my problem or his? How can he say such terrible things to me, and not know why I'm crying? Will he ever accept responsibility for his choices or will it always be someone else's fault? How can such a sweet, handsome social kid be kind to others, and not me? Why so much anger?  

Why does his hug make me cringe? What kind of mother says that out loud? 

And as he grows, so does his intensity, strength and determination.  He is master at figuring out the weaknesses of his family, and waits for the right moment to strike, like a viper.  The venom is near deadly.  But sometimes fear, that liar, tells me that would be better than the continued struggle.  He does not embarrass but seems to gain strength from embarrassing us.  And is quick to announce, "I don't care" if we call attention to it.  

And his sorrow when the rage is over, is also more intense and heartbreaking.  But I don't trust it.  Maybe that's the problem, I can't let go of my own fear to help him process his. 

We have glimpses...quick moments of happy. What I would have considered "normal" family stuff before 2009. 





But these moments feel like lies we tell ourselves to survive.  Parenting two kids with unique and different special needs, gives him ammunition against us; because it can't be the same and it is most definitely different that parenting our biological, neuro-typical son.  Nothing feels normal anymore and the sand, literally, under my feet is shifting and I am not able to stand strong.  

I even hate the vocabulary that fill our days.  
Non-neuro-typical, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), depression, self-harm, unsafe, oppositional defiant, frustration, control, issues, door alarms, therapists, psychiatrists, confusion, safety plan, crisis, medication management, door locks, impulsivity, rage, melt-downs, indifference. 

In her book, An Unlit Path, Deborah L. Hannah states, "the opposite of love is indifference." 

My truth, that I am working through, is that I am becoming indifferent to my son, and to my God.  I am afraid to be angry, because of what my unleash within myself.  I keep looking for God's grace to fix our family, but I am facing the reality that maybe grace isn't what He is going to do for us.  Maybe there isn't protection.  Maybe we are truly suffering , like Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4, and until his glory is revealed.  And it may look very different that what we pray for.  

This is not about pity, but to share what our reality is, because I know now, without a doubt, there are other mommas out there who feel the same way.  Just know you are not alone.  

I don't know what the rest of our story looks like.  We are no longer taking it days at a time, but hour by hour.  

We do continue to covet your prayers- maybe for strength in our journey, and that we won't grow weary quiet so fast.  But under no circumstance, pray for our patience! 

And peace, oh how we crave peace.  I'm looking for it desperately. 

Happy Thursday y'all! 




Note- it's been nearly two weeks since I wrote this at the beach. Shortly after, we had what seemed like a good talk and I thought maybe it would get better, so I didn't publish it, thinking again it was me and maybe I was over-reacting; always trying to protect my son from the ugly of our reality- but the truth is,  our family is in chaos and crisis.  If you ask my adult son, he will tell you that we've been here since day one; he remembers vividly when our world changed. We are broken and seeking God's direction for our future, and how to best meet the challenging and difficult needs of our son while preserving our family.  






Thursday, May 10, 2018

Jesus Wins.


"Our family has problems”

That was his reason he gave to her for what brought him to the Emergency Department. “I have RAD, my brother has Autism and my parents have their own problems.” 

All true.  His perspective differs than mine. 

The assessor talked to him some more, talked to me, talked to both of us, made some notes, commented that it’s been a long time since his last inpatient stay and went on her way- ultimately determining that he did in fact, need to be admitted. 

The long- time span is good.  And it certainly gives us perspective that this is better than before.  But, for anyone parenting kids with mental illness, we know it is typically managed- not cured.  It comes in cycles and, like we were told four years ago, it is to be expected.  Especially now, during this time of his body changing and growing and hormones raging. 


I don’t think any parent ever gets “used to” having your child admitted for things that seem beyond his control- yet these things must be controlled to succeed in life.  Anger is normal, uncontrolled anger is scary and dangerous.  Sadness is normal, deep, unrelenting sadness is deadly.  The desire to control is normal, the belief that lack of control will kill you, is destructive and heartbreaking. 

It still blows my mind how the simplest of things, even doing what he asks of us, can send him down a path of no return. 

So here we are.  Now 30 plus hours in and we are still waiting in the Emergency Department for a bed.  He just turned 13 a few weeks ago, which makes him eligible for a third hospital in the area. 

While I sit in this locked, four bed unit and watch the kids come and go my heart is sad.  There have been five other kids share this space in the last 30 hours, kids also dealing with things bigger than they are.  The ages ranged from around 6- 15. 

There is an epidemic of our young kids who prefer to die than deal with the big things.
And it is easy to hear the details from these other families, because there is no privacy here, and quickly jump to a conclusion.  Like the youngest whose sibling kept cursing at everyone, and after several complaints the mom jerked her out of the area, banging her head on the wall, dragging her out screaming while she created a scene of “not going to sit there and be stared out” all while her young son watched without a peep.  He was released to go home; but preferred to stay.

Or, the young teen who came in and looked so innocent, so lost.  His mom searching for answers of why he was brought here and trying to grasp the process.  And the calm demeanor and held tears as that same young kid left in feet and hand shackles, escorted by deputies. 
And I sit here hour after hour and reflect on what I might be doing to make my own child’s trauma worse.  Is it me?  Can I do something more or less to ease his own mental anguish. 

The minutes tick by turning into hours, and eventually days.  With each hour, my own walls come down a bit.  The wall of self-preservation that gets higher and higher with every one of his outbursts, or wounding words, starts to crumble.  Because I see my baby. 

I see his anger and frustration and verbal attacks meld into sadness and fear.  He begs for us to take him home; and he erupts again with the thoughts and feelings he has both kept in and the ones that he has spewed out. 

I remind him that it’s okay to need help, he doesn’t have to carry this weight on his own.  And while we are thankful for professionals and medication and therapies that all have a place- it is his own Jesus who will be right here with him.  Jesus, who died not just for his sins but for his sadness, the trauma he has survived and the internal anguish he fights every single day.  And it is his Jesus who wins.   

But it sure doesn't feel like that these days.  

The daily survival sucks the life out of us. We get mired down in the fearful feeling that this is it, nothing will change and we are doomed to this hard forever.

During these days, we have been held up by prayers, calls and tangible acts. We appreciate ever word of encouragement and act of love .  

It’s now Thursday night.  After 4 days and 3 nights in the Emergency Department, Elijah got a bed and was admitted for care.  

That is a long time to sit in the ED.  And the waiting for psychiatric care is much different that waiting for medical care.  The nurses, "sitters", social workers and other staff was good to us, doing much to make our wait bearable.  But in their own words, "the system is broken".  

During the wait, the emotional roller coaster runs non-stop.  From anger, to sadness, to fear, to dread.  We've been here before so he knows what is coming.  He knows the process is hard. 
So we break the silence with his questions and fears, which include some good conversation; like the night we took this picture.  He told me to post it on Facebook, and he titled the post. 

Hard is easier when you do it together.  


I had just told him he wasn’t damaged goods.  Reminding him that God didn’t create him damaged but He is certainly taking all the trauma and neglect and hurt and using every bit of it to write his story. There is no shame in any of it like the enemy wants us to believe.  The hospital is to help our brains and not just our bodies.  

He, like so many of us feel alone when we are most vulnerable; we believe the lie that we are the only ones suffering.  And if we are the only ones, than it must be us.  We must be damaged and who wants to let that secret out, so we don't.  We keep it all bottled inside and hide thinking nobody will understand.  

And that’s why I share the details of what our adoption reality is.  I don't write to shame or embarrass my sons or to gain pity or attention.  

It is what it is.  God has a plan for all of it including us being able to comfort and encourage others with the same comfort we ourselves have received. If we keep our hard hidden, if we feel shame when we struggle and seek help- then we can't share the victory when we win.  

On Monday, a friend of mine shared the message from her church's ladies event that I was supposed to attend with her but couldn't.  The take-away is Jesus Wins.  Our great big God, all the plans and provision, persecution and pain, wherever you are in your faith, whatever the thorn in your flesh, however you are suffering- the end of the story has been written. 

It is God's perfect plan, one that at the time had to look hopeless but Jesus Wins. 

Our family has problems, yes it is true.  But, because He wins, so can we.

Happy Thursday Y'all!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Been Changed?



Today's blog brought to you by my son, Elijah. 
This is his testimony, in his words, and we are so thankful. 

Photo Credit: Nathan Smith 



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"My name is Elijah Allen and I’m 12 years old.  I was placed in foster care when I was 18 months old and adopted three years later.  Even though’ my mom cared about me, she didn’t have the means to take care of me and my brother.  She would leave us home with our 8 -year old sister for days at a time.  I can remember crying when the people in black came to pick me up, crying, driving off in a car and looking back at the giant building.  I can remember some things, but not a lot.   

God has used many people to help me know about him. 
·       Ms. Edith, my first grade Sunday School teacher
·       my Mom and Dad
·       Shayne, my oldest brother who is there for me in my hard times and helping me in school, preparing me for major situations and talking to me, sitting down with me and trying to understand what I might be going through. 
·       Emily, my SIL because she wrote me a letter and made my day feel brighter
·       Mr. Tim (Shoemaker) who helped me understand the important things in situations by telling me what I needed to work on or do better when I was having a hard day. Jessica, I thank her for being loving and kind and funny and being a wonderful babysitter.   
·       Pastor Lane, because he is just a nice friend to have, he is welcoming and supportive.  
·       Ms. Verna who supported my mom’s decisions and loved me for who I was. 
·       The sweet ladies here, like Shirley Kanode, who when I’m having a hard day give me hugs and kisses on my cheeks. 
·       Mr. Phil who tells me to straighten up when I’m out of line and is teaching me the importance of being respectful.  I guess that’s the military in him. 
·       Pastor Jake who is a caring Pastor who is helping me understand what it means to be a Christian.
And the other people like Aunt Nae, Memaw & Granddaddy, other family members and Teri & Jay who are always there supporting us. 

I’ve really struggled in the past with doing what I’m told, listening to my parents, throwing things and being respectful to people around me.  But, what God has helped me to see is that even if you’re going through hard times and having frustrations and struggles, He will help you turn into a better person than you thought you could be. 

In 2014, it was really hard – I was in the hospital several times and I had to follow a schedule and couldn’t do what I wanted.  The hardest thing was being away from my parents.   Even though I gave them a hard time and told them they didn’t love me and I never accepted their love, deep down inside I knew they really did. Then I went to Fresh Start, which is residential treatment and I was there for about four months.  I learned different ways to help me with all the problems I’ve had and sometimes I think that all of this was for a good reason and God’s purpose to help my future.  But I wasn’t ready then to accept Christ.  I wasn’t sure about or thinking much about God, I had gone forward at Bible school but I just wasn’t sure. I felt sad and frustrated because I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about that.  In Sunday School I would hear people say that if I felt like I wasn’t saved, then I probably wasn’t. 

This life is about hard times and struggles, but it’s changing.  In January of this year, we were in the car and I told my parents that I didn’t feel different, that I didn’t think I was changed and didn’t feel like anything was getting better. 

Later that night, we came home and I came into the living room and asked Mom and Dad about what I had said in the car.  We talked about if for a while and then we prayed together and then I prayed and asked to be saved and accepted Jesus into my heart.  That’s when I felt relief and like everything, all of my sadness and a lot of my frustrations were gone. 

After I got saved I felt like God was helping me and understanding that what I was going through may be hard, but He wasn’t going to give up on me.  I knew all these things that I’ve gone through are helping me to be the Christ-like person that God wants me to be. 

What I’m trying to say for those people who don’t believe in Jesus, is that sometimes it can be difficult and hard and even sometimes you feel like everybody around you is out to get you; what they’re really trying to do is understand what your feelings are in a way that they hope you understand.  Like God, he wants you to understand that he was here to die on a cross for your sins, that He loves you with everything that He has, and He will never leave you."

And after sharing his testimony, our Pastor baptized my sweet son.  This child who continues to teach us every single day about loving unconditionally, grace and forgiveness.

Elijah wanted his big brother, Shayne to stand with him. 

So many feelings as I read his testimony to our church family. It was a sweet gift he gave me.

Jesus is Lord




We love our Pastor ,and his humble example, so much.

Brothers. 

Elijah's Daddy singing during the service 

Our growing family


After church, we celebrated with lunch at our home and so many friends and family,  so many people who have prayed for us on our adoption realities journey, and who love us through all the chaos.  

If you want to watch, check it out on YouTube

Happy Sunday y'all! 
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